The Marine Biological Association is currently celebrating the start of three Horizon 2020 projects! Horizon 2020 is the biggest ever EU Research and Innovation programme, with a focus on excellent science and tackling societal challenges.
The MBA is one of 36 international partners in the AtlantECO project, receiving a €233,000 contribution from the project’s €11 million budget. AtlantECO, coordinated by Stazione Zoologica Anton Dhorn in Italy, aims to develop and apply a novel, unifying framework that provides knowledge-based resources for a better understanding and management of the Atlantic Ocean and its ecosystem services.
The 4-year project focuses on three pillars of research: microbiomes, plastic and the plastisphere, and seascape connectivity. From pole to pole, the project will map new and existing knowledge about the microscopic organisms that inhabit a variety of ecosystems – from marine sediments to the open ocean.
The MBA is involved in Work Package 4, and will be working to set up a series of new Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) tows between Brazil and Cape Town. This will be the first CPR tow in this region of the Atlantic, contributing to commitments outlined in the Belém Statement, with the aim of filling knowledge gaps between the widely-studied North Atlantic and the under-studied South Atlantic regions. Once set up, the tow will be operated by the Department of Environmental Affairs, Forestry and Fisheries, Cape Town, in collaboration with Federal University of Rio Grande (FURG), Brazil.
Dr Clare Ostle with a CPR unit
The other main area of MBA involvement is in Work Package 7, co-lead by David Johns, Head of the CPR Survey. Here, the MBA / CPR Survey will help to assemble novel time series datasets of ecosystem drivers and stressors, so that the present status of basin scale Atlantic ecosystem processes can be assessed. CPR data will be used in new model processes which, when coupled with climate scenarios, will help to predict species migration, the transfer of hazards and pollutants, and the balance between human activities and ecosystem health.